How long is the adenovirus fiber shaft?
Internet: 1 hour of clicking through primary literature: nothing. Lots of mentions of protein sizes, number of repeats, sizes in base pairs, but very little mention of how long the damn structure is. Signal to noise problem.
Google it: Gave up. Signal to noise ratio is waaaayyyyyy to low.
Microbiology textbook* published in 1967, purchased in thrift store: 250 Angstroms (took 30 seconds)
*Davis, Bernardo, Renato Dulbecco**, Herman Eisen, Harold Ginsberg and W. Barry Wood. Microbiology. New York: Hoeber Medical Publishing. 1967. Print.
Thrift store books: 1, Internet: 0
**Renato Dulbecco shared the 1975 Nobel Prize for having demonstrated that cells can be made cancerous by infecting them with certain viruses. His name blesses a cell culture media that at one point in my life was more important than coffee. Importantly to the post I was doing this research for, he invented the plaque assay, a method for counting viruses. An excellent obituary for Renato Dulbecco (from another famous virologist) here. In ~2004/5 I happily sat through a boring lecture at the Salk Institute, given by one Nobel prize winner and attended by 3 others: Francis Crick (two rows in front of me; structure of DNA), Sydney Brenner (down in front; genetics of cell fate determination in C. elegans) and Renato Dulbecco (seated next to me). Nerd heaven.